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News: 2012-01-05 Lane County AFSCME Nurses Set to Strike

ONA Supports Lane County AFSCME Nurses -
STRIKE POSTPONED

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) leadership has decided to postpone the strike originally scheduled for Thursday, January 12.

The county has raised some challenges to the original strike notice and, in order to keep the focus on the real issues and not get caught up in a fight over technicalities, AFSCME decided to re-issue the strike notice for a later date. AFSCME will be in touch with ONA once a new date has been determined. 

 Please check back later for more details and a possible new date as the information becomes available.  Thank you for all of the support shown by ONA members!

Background

After months of unproductive bargaining, 62 nurses represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 75 have voted to authorize a strike on in order to stop their employer from implementing excessive cuts to wages and benefits. The group of nurses, which includes RNs, LPNs, CNAs and NPs, work in Lane County’s public health department, the Lane County Jail and county Community Health Centers in Eugene and Springfield.

Unlike other Lane County employees, who are paid out of the county’s general fund, most of the AFSCME-represented nurses generate their own funding, creating “billable hours” for state and federal health care grants and matching funds. As a result, the nurse bargaining unit has historically chosen to give up pay increases in exchange for a slightly enhanced health care plan relative to other county employees. While that tradeoff has translated to lower overall wages for the AFSCME nurses compared to other comparable positions in the Eugene/Springfield market, it was an exchange that both management and the nurses saw eye-to-eye on. However, in this negotiation, Lane County is pushing for major concessions from nurses in a two-year contract that erodes health benefits, calls for a mandatory furlough day, and imposes language that could strip nurses of their ability to earn overtime at 1.5 or 2 times their hourly rate. Meanwhile, nurses are being pushed to increase their already heavy workload—seeing more patients for the same pay and lesser benefits. Read the Register-Guard article, “County nurses set to strike” here for more information .

In a time when care professionals everywhere are being asked to do more with less, nurses at Lane County are preparing themselves to engage in an act of incredible bravery in order to protect standards of care and professionalism that impact all Oregon nurses. If a strike occurs, the employer may attempt to hire replacement nurses through a staffing agency. Temporary replacements weaken the standards of practice for all nurses; they are the employer’s number one weapon in defeating our collective power at the bargaining table.

ONA Supports Lane County Nurses

These kinds of cuts, particularly to overtime protections, weaken standards for all nurses who work in our community. It is for that reason that ONA’s nurse leaders have voted to officially support Lane County nurses in their fight for a fair contract.

ONA-represented nurses are strongly encouraged to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from AFSCME Local 2831 by refusing to accept any agency position that could undermine a strike at Lane County. The ONA Economic and General Welfare Cabinet has formally voted to support the AFSCME Strike. This official action requires our members to honor the AFSCME picket lines and not volunteering as replacement workers should a strike at Lane County occur.

Should a strike occur, AFSCME nurses will be engaging inpicketing outside of various Lane County facilities. ONA nurses are welcomed and encouraged to visit picket lines to show solidarity and offer support. 

 UNION

 

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